A Summer Christmas Party

I’m back.  I’ve had a short absence as over the weekend I found the space-bar on my Mac Book Pro wouldn’t cooperate and so I couldn’t space out my words.  Frustrating!  On Monday I took my nine-month old lap top to the Apple repair shop and they confirmed the space-bar had died and as it’s connected to the keyboard, I needed a completely new keyboard.  Unbelievable seeing my laptop is relatively new but the upside is that the repair was under warranty.

Festive napkins

Festive napkins

While devoid of my device, I haven’t been idle.  There has been a lot going on in the Hotly Spiced Kitchen and there have been the usual ups and downs of being a mother.  Last night Archie had excruciating pain from his chin to the top of his head.  I managed to get him an emergency appointment with a local dentist for first thing this morning and the news is not good but pretty much what we expected.  He has an infected wisdom tooth and his other three don’t look too good so all four will have to come out sooner rather than later.  They did suggest scheduling the surgery for January 21 but Archie said, ‘Would I need to be sober?’  That cut the conversation short as ‘the team’ all looked at him rather confused but he explained it is his 21st birthday the day before and that he has a big night planned.  Surgery has been rescheduled for a later date.

The concentration around the barbie

The concentration around the barbie

Miss Arabella has broken up with her boyfriend.  The one with the tattoos.  The one where every time I looked at him I kept thinking I should go into the laser tattoo removal business as I suspect it’s going to be a serious growth industry when these Gen Y’s turn 30.  Despite the grief, Arabella is coping well – she’s shopping online.

A hive of activity.  Alfie sitting with his feet in the water at the end of the pool.

A hive of activity. Alfie sitting with his feet in the water at the end of the pool.

Alfie has had a setback at the school where because he was disruptive one day in class (over-excited about performing in the school’s musical that night), some woman in charge of ‘consequences’ (it’s not politically correct to call them what they are – ‘punishments’ but don’t get me started), has been banned from attending the end of year six-hour excursion to the beach.  Instead he has to sit in the deputy principal’s office and verbalise his crimes.  It’s a world gone mad as Alfie committed his crimes over a week ago and the ‘consequence’ isn’t for another week and it’s on the second-last day of the school year.  As I explained to the disciplinary officer who phoned me (music teacher), children need to be punished immediately, not three weeks after the event.  I told her that if she wanted to punish (give consequences) to Alfie, she could take him up to the oval and make him run around the oval 10 times.  ‘That would rid him of his excess energy, assist the childhood obesity crisis, raise his self-esteem by letting him think he’s a champion for running so far (and therefore turning a ‘consequence’ into a positive) and send him back into the classroom in a calm and relaxed state’, is what I said.  The reply was, ‘Can you imagine if it got into the papers that we were treating children like that’.

Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where common sense wasn’t so poorly regarded.

Baked glazed ham

Baked glazed ham

But it hasn’t all been home-front battles.  I’ve been launching into the festive season with gusto.  Last weekend we attended a Christmas party at my cousin Pip’s house.  Pip has popped up on this blog a number of times because she is an excellent cook and excels at entertaining.  She moved here from New Zealand around four years ago and every year she opens her doors and hosts a Christmas party.  I thought it might be fascinating for those in the Northern Hemisphere to see how we do Christmas during the heat of summer.

Marinated eye fillet with pineapple

Marinated eye fillet with pineapple

And yes, it was a very hot day.  We were outside but searching for a bit of shade as you could feel yourself being burnt to a crisp.  The home was beautifully decorated with a gorgeous tree and there was a craft table for the girls to make bon bons and Christmas cards but most of the action took place outdoors – this must be a very foreign concept for those trampling through snow and ice.

Marinated prawns with a garlic aioli

Marinated prawns with a garlic aioli

The swimming pool was a major feature of the day and the children and it provided countless hours of entertainment.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese on baguettes

Smoked salmon and cream cheese on baguettes

The major feature leading from the kitchen was a stunning baked ham glazed with mustard that was served sliced in bread rolls.

Vegetarian wraps

Vegetarian wraps

The bar-be-cue was in full swing and there were skewers with eye fillet steak marinated in fish sauce, chilli, ginger and garlic with pineapple.

Baguettes with ham and cucumber

Baguettes with ham and cucumber

There were vegetarian skewers with zucchini, tomatoes, capsicum and haloumi cheese.

Vegetarian skewers

Vegetarian skewers

We left feeling very full and very sun-kissed.  It was a great Christmas party – so casual and relaxed and lovely to see all the children so excited about the time of year and enjoying the season for what it is – a celebration – regardless of whether you’re surrounded by snow or sunshine.

Chocolate Strawberries

Chocolate Strawberries

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  1. WOW! Napkins, vegetarian wrap and strawberries, fascinated me. 🙂
    Thank you dear Charlie, have a nice day, love, nia

  2. Oh poor Archie…and poor, poor Alfie, that ‘consequence’ (shudder) is way over the top and too harsh for the alleged behaviour. I think ‘child deprived of end-of-year beach trip’ would be a worse headline than ‘child had to run around oval 10 times’. Things have gone a bit wrong these days in that respect haven’t they?! On a brighter note, yummy food and a fun pool party with cousins hopefully made up for that disappointment. I do miss my hot Christmases, living in London, where it doesn’t snow at Christmas despite the movies indicating otherwise.

    • You must miss the warm weather, Danielle. What a shame London doesn’t have a white Christmas. I think if it has to be cold at Christmas, it needs to at least be white!

  3. So glad you had all this scrumptious food to see you through the frustrations of the past while. My hubs is a teacher and regularly wants to knock his head against the walk because of the utter LACK of common sense. Sigh. So glad your son has you to balance the lunacy at school. 🙂

  4. What is with these harsh penalties? My youngest just had suspension for the silliest of deeds.

  5. Sorry to hear Arabella, Archie and Alfie are going through difficult times. As to Alfie’s ‘penalty’ it seems excessive do deny him the chance to celebrate the end of year outing with his friends especially when it’s pushed back so long that the anticipation of the penalty is already nerve wracking enough.

  6. My goodness, you’ve packed a lot into this post. I hope Archie and Arabella are feeling better. The whole situation with Alfie seems absurd. You were correct in challenging the teacher’s punishment timing and method.

    It seems so odd to think of warmth at Christmas as I sit inside my snug house with the current outdoor windchill temp at -20 degrees F here in southern Minnesota. I’d rather be in your backyard enjoying a BBQ.

    All of that food served at Pip’s Christmas party looks sooooooo very delicious.

  7. Common sense indeed! Alfie a naughty lad?! 😉 Punishment should be immediate, I agree…they hardly remember what they’ve done 5 minutes later, let alone 3 weeks! I envy that your Christmas will be warm and I’ll up to my arse in snow by then!! 😉 Merry Christmas

  8. Ahhhh I always love reading your posts. You know, I just realized last week that you guys have Christmas in the summer! For some reason, I guess I thought that the holidays were mirror imaged or something… totally ridiculous, I know. these images make me long for summer, but then, it will come around soon enough and I’ll be complaining about the heat.
    Love those veggie rolls!


  10. How fun to get an update, but sorry about your keyboard. It does seem rather soon to have to replace one, if ever! I love seeing how you “do” Christmas in your part of the world. It reminds me of Christmases in Florida where we often went water skiing on Christmas Day–but not always! Stunning ham. Just stunning.

  11. Seriously? I’m frowning here at the ‘consequence’ given out to Alfie so far in advance. From my experience they’re not going to remember what they did the day after the event, let alone weeks after. Ridiculous.
    On a positive note, you’ve been pumping out some incredible looking dishes 🙂

  12. Oh I love a good summers day Christmas party! What a feast! The stories of your children always make me smile, as I wonder how many of these similar situations I’ll be dealing with in the years to come.

  13. Never a dull moment at your place Charlie! Perhaps you and Alfie could be picnicking at the same beach as his school and just ‘happen’ to run into them, which of course leads to chatting, which could lead to playing, which could lead to Alfie having a wonderful time with his friends all day, but of course in an unofficial, unsanctioned capacity- no problem 🙂
    I hope the breakup sticks this time so Arabella can move on, and that Archie can manage pain relief that isn’t alcoholic in origin so he can pace his liver between now and January 🙂 Gorgeous looking party shots sweetie, looks like lots of fun indeed xox

  14. That really seems like such a disconnect between the crime and the consequence, poor Alfie. And poor Archie, too. I’ve done the wisdom teeth thing…no fun at all. But it looks like the Christmas festivities are well under way and fun. Thanks for letting those of us in the Northern hemisphere have a glimpse into what Christmas in the summer is like. BarB and swimming sounds great about now.

  15. Your post made me smile, imagining your daughter recovering from a broken heart doing online shopping 🙂 reminds me of my teenage days only that we did the real shopping.
    All this treats look wonderful, specially the glazed ham, so yummy!

  16. So many Macs have problems. I’m amazed people still buy them! Well I know why they do and I still have issues with my iPad but there you go! 😛 The food looks delicious at this christmas party. Not long now until the 25th!

  17. Poor Alfie! That is so unfair and unreasonable. Maybe we can start a petition?
    I see Archie has his priorities in order and poor mis Arabella. Love to see her purchases.
    What a delicious lunch!

  18. i love reading about your family, always a joy to read! happy holidays charlie!

  19. Quite a period you had, glad it ended with a wonderful party, great food, good weather and wonderful family.

  20. Alfie has to sit in the deputy principals office instead of attending the excursion, and for six hours verbalize? Are you sure it isn’t the deputy principal that’s getting punished? 🙂 Sorry about your computer – it’s the pits when something like that happens. I always use a wireless keyboard with my laptop – it’s bigger, so it’s easier. Anyway, fun post – thanks.

  21. G’day Charlie! it took me quite some time to adapt that Christmas now is warm/hot weather and cold weather when inside my body is supposed to be summer!
    Always good sharing family and friends memories!
    Happy Holidays!
    Cheers! Joanne

  22. I nearly spit out my tea over Archie’s comment! Nick turns 21 in April…when he should be studying for finals. I hope he uses common sense…LOL…hard to do at that age. Never a dull moment at your house, Charlie…but glad you had some fun times, too 🙂 xo

  23. I’m a reporter. I’d be happy to let them know how poorly they’re treating your son.


  24. What a hell of a week!!! Archie has obviously conquered “mind over matter” if he’s able to postpone surgery until after his 21st Bday party, Arabella is applying the concept of “out with the old and in with the new” (let’s go shopping!), and poor Alfie – sounds like the school system there has lost all of concept of reality, just like here! But don’t get me started. I’ve always wanted to see how the southern Hemisphere celebrated Christmas. Looks a lot like our 4th of July! Thanks! Everything looks quite delicious!

  25. Oh wow I got frustrated by reading your week summary! I got my all 4 wisdom teeth pulled out at all once. Sure it was tough, but I think it was the best decision (actually I had no choice as American dentist was expensive and I had to get it done in my short summer break in Japan where dentist is so cheap). I couldn’t eat for a whole week, but at least just one week for all four teeth. So it was good when I think about it now. Sorry to hear about Arabella’s breakup but online shopping sounds good therapy. 🙂 And Alfie.. poor Alfie! I still can’t believe about the “consequences”. I get upset by reading… ahh! Sorry you had to go through all that in a week! 🙁

  26. I feel so bad for Alfie 🙁 He’s Laith’s age and I can’t imagine him having to endure a punishment , I mean consequence like that. That’s just plain horrid. Sorry about Arabella and Archie too, when it rains it pours doesn’t it? On the flip side, looks like you had a magnificent party; great food, pool and sunshine! And here I am slipping around on ice trying not to break a hip!

  27. Online shopping is a great way to mend a girls broken heart!
    I do love your families adventures Charlie, never a dull moment! xo

  28. You have certainly not been idle! – fabulous, mouth-watering food. And I agree about Alfie, that’s a crazy way to punish. All the kids are exhausted and overwrought at this time of the time. A bit of compassion wouldn’t go amiss.

  29. I am having such a giggle at the ‘punishment’ – not because it is a punishment, but because the school is deluded. Actions need immediate consequences! I have heard of so many people having issues with their Mac’s. My friend’s screen ‘popped’ on a flight and no sooner had it been repaired than he flew again and it popped! Have a super sunny day 🙂

  30. All this political correctness is ridiculous. Running round the oval is hardly flogging and as you say an understandable direct ‘consaquence’ of bad behaviour. Which if there is an exciting event in the school that could make the children over animated, they should be managing. Rant! Your Christmas party looks great fun, a long way from our thick fog we had yesterday, so bad I had to abandon the idea of a new route for the Glam Pooch walk as I wasn’t sure I’d find my way! GG xx

  31. I agree that is totally absurd to have a ‘consequence’ three weeks after the deed. And to miss the big year end party hardly is just cruel – that should be front page news. I’m so happy to have left the dark Northern Hemisphere and to have arrived in sunny, warm (for now anyway) Melbourne.

  32. Motherhood stressors sound in full swing at your place! Poor Alfie with that ‘consequence’ – it sounds very unjust. I also hope Archie’s teeth settle down enough to enjoy Christmas and that Arabella continues to find relief in online shopping! At least your food looks impeccable 🙂

  33. Sounds like a pretty crazy week. And was shocked when I read the part about consequences… I mean, seriously???

  34. Glorious food! And I’m going to wait for a few more posts before I believe Arabella’s really broken up for good.. 🙂

  35. lots of pretty food at the party – I love those strawberries and some of the veg food. I think I might hire you are my consequences officer (or should that just be common sense officer) – I agree that 3 weeks is a crazy amount of time and I like your idea of the running around the oval. Sounds like there has been lots of drama – hope archie wont be in too much pain at his 21st- though am sure that booze will be an excellent anasthetic

  36. I’m disgusted at how they treat children at that school. All that’s going to do is teach him how to hate school and hate those in authority. You must be so angry.

    What a fancy party at Pip’s. I’m glad you had a good time in spite of Archie’s teeth and Alfie’s excursion or lack thereof.

  37. Among all the ups and downs of life, this party looks like it was a success and brought some happiness and sunburn into everyone’s lives! Love the assortment of dishes, easy but “gourmet” for a pool side holiday party! We share the same weather so I love seeing you celebrate Christmas by the pool!!

  38. I love the images from a summer Christmas party! It just looks like so much fun and the food appears to be delightful. Thank you for the update on the family, Charlie. I love the stories, although it seems each child is going through their own particular tough time! I want to come over and get into someone’s face about Alfie’s punishment–which doesn’t fit the crime! I have so many similar stories from our son’s school days. I remember the time my husband had had enough and walked into the principal’s office to explain that the derivation of the word discipline came from “to disciple”–since this was a Christian private school, surely they’d get it. No. Somehow we all survive, but I can still be irritated. 🙂 Give him an extra hug from all of us, will you? ox

  39. Hi Charlie, I’m sorry to hear about Archie’s teeth, it must be very painful. I tend to agree with you about Alfi’s situation, sometimes you just need to knock these type of people on the forehead a few times saying “McFly? is there anyone home in there?”
    I’m very glad that the keyboard was under warrantee, I just love Apple on how well they back up their product. My iPhone was problematic, crashing quite often and when I took it in for the third time I said, “this is a lemon and I think you need to give me a new one” and they did! I haven’t had any problems with it since!

  40. A very lovely updated post, I hope that Archie’s teeth are improving fast! 🙂 Such a lovely day that you all had with plenty of fine & tasty foods! I love it all too! 🙂 I wish I was there with you celebrating & nibbling on those delectable foods! 😉

  41. I love it how you tell all your stories in one go and then come back with some more…you are hilarious!!! Going into tattoo removal business…you had me in splits, lol!! Love the food line up but so sorry to hear about your Mac.

  42. Good to know the “consequences” in the Australian school system are as backwards as they are in the US!

    I can’t imagine having it be summer during Christmas. Though your party food is making me wish it were!

  43. Pip’s food looks AMAZING! I don’t envy Archie’s wisdom teeth issues. Don’t share this with him, but I would have to say that my wisdom teeth removal experience was 10 times worse than labor and delivery. Horrible! Poor Alfie, such a ridiculous punishment for just being disruptive! Surely, he cannot be the only child in his class that is excited for Christmas break (or is it summer break where you are?). And I would have to agree with Arabella’s choice of therapy. Shopping is a cure all for many things! 🙂

  44. lol, I remember when I played up in school the teacher would make not just me but the entire class run around the football pitch. That sure put paid to any future funny business. It’s bad enough being told to run “until the teacher has decided you’ve had enough”, but even worse when you incur the wrath of everyone else in your class for your misdeeds!

  45. Your family has been through the wars – each and every one of them. What happens about the toothache until the dentist appointment for surgery? Don’t they do these things straight away?
    What a nasty punishment – I think the papers would have more to say about that punishment than having a child run about outside. The world has gone mad.
    Poor Arabella! It’s never pleasant but shopping does help.
    Just as well your laptop was under warranty after just 9 months but what a pain! How can we live without our computers!?

  46. I think my comment disappeared. I will try again.
    Your family has been through the wars – each and every one of them. What happens about the toothache until the dentist appointment for surgery? Don’t they do these things straight away?
    What a nasty punishment – I think the papers would have more to say about that punishment than having a child run about outside. The world has gone mad.
    Poor Arabella! It’s never pleasant but shopping does help.
    Just as well your laptop was under warranty after just 9 months but what a pain! How can we live without our computers!?

  47. What a lovely spread Charlie. I hope you and yours have a lovely Christmas, despite the dramas. If it were me, I think I’d be keeping young Alfie home from school on that day – that punishment (or whatever the hell they want to call it) seems a little harsh.
    And as for the wisdom teeth – we’ve been there too. I found it extremely frustrating that after we’d paid an arm and a leg to have all of their teeth straightened we then had to spend another small fortune getting some of them pulled out!

  48. I just so wanted to dive in the pool when I read your blog, the food sounded and looked awesome! This totally typifies Christmas in Australia for me! I grew up in Cairns Far North Queensland, and once the poinciana trees flowered their red blossoms, I knew Christmas was on its way! Now, I’m in Parkes NSW, I watch the jacaranda trees flower purple blossoms and that’s the time I think I need to get the decorations out and pop the bubbles!
    Loved how you dealt with the school, totally agree that indiscretions should be dealt with there and then, not 3 weeks later, and should also look for the positives, what’s happened to modelling good behaviour I wonder?
    So , I just want to wish you and your lovely family a very Merry Christmas and I look forward to continue to read your blog ! Hugs and HO HO HO!! X

  49. Wow Charlie, there’s so much going on at your place, I can barely keep up! Sigh, don’t get me started on issues with schools! Your Christmas foods look so festive… I’m hoping you have some peace and joy over the festive season xo

  50. Apple’s warranties are wonderful things. My iPad’s volume control button wasn’t working right and they replaced the iPad!!! I was amazed. I’ve never spent a Christmas anywhere that wasn’t above freezing, unless there was some freakish warm spell passing through. It certainly looks like you had a wonderful time. The weather really doesn’t matter. It’s the people you spend the day with that count. I feel sorry for Archie. None of us can forget when our wisdom teeth went bad. As for Alfie, that punishment is beyond ridiculous. Maybe they’ll relent before the excursion. I certainly hope so.

  51. It is terrible that he must miss the picnic. What did he do? Rob the school canteen or something. As an ex teacher, I have a theory. Spirited boys, often with no present father figure, taught by middle aged women, who in the affluent areas, are often close to retirement and a bit over it. That is why the system is failing so many kids.. If teaching was a more respected profession attracting lots of men, it would be better for everyone. Absolutely nothing wrong with either cohort, but this kind of pettiness is the result. You and he must be devastated.

  52. Ha Charlie I think you should follow Becs advise and picnic with the school. Just follow the school bus to the beach in the morning!. I love that the “team” just looked at Archie for his comments and then changed the dates…. Pip has thrown a lovely party again. I remember her party from last year x

  53. How frustrating for a new-ish computer to break like that…but thankfully it’s just the keyboard! How stupid the school is being about Alfie…I much prefer your “consequence” and I think it would be much more effective. That spread of food looks incredible! And yes, it’s still odd to me to imagine christmastime in the summer ):

  54. Gosh Charlie you’ve had another hectic week but I’m glad to know Arabella is feeling better nothing heals a broken heart faster than retail shopping hehe 🙂 Well I know that’s what I would do hehe
    Poor Alfie! i coudln’t stop laughing and nodding my head when you said the teacher should’ve just asked Alfie to run 10 laps because it all makes sense, tired kids and generally good kids who are less disruptive 🙂

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